Friday, February 4, 2011

How to Find a Good Critique Partner

Due to many of your comments from last post about why we all need a good critique partner (CP), I thought I’d write a follow up post to help those who don’t currently have one. To find a good partner, we need to ask ourselves some key questions:

1. What do I want? It’s helpful to work out what it is we want in a CP. Many of us are after different things. Many of us are at different stages in our projects. Sometimes all we need is to find someone who can comment on the basic story structure. Other times we might be after someone who can do picky line edits.

2. What are my weaknesses? We all have weak spots in our writing, so it helps to know what they are so we can find a partner who is strong in that area.

3. What can I offer in return? CPs share a two-way relationship. They will critique each other’s work. So it’s helpful to figure out early where our strong points lie and offer those skills in return.

Now that you’ve equipped yourself with these answers, you’re ready to find a match. There are a number of ways of finding a CP. The blogsphere is full of potential partners.

Denise at L’Aussie Writing has been compiling an email list for anyone interested in finding a CP. You’ll need to email her soon with your details if you wish to be included.

Nathan Bransford offers on his forums a thread designed to help writers connect with critique partners.

Natascha at The Las Vegas Writer is offering free critiques in the month of February.

Finally, you could always email your favourite bloggers. It can’t hurt to ask.

If you know of anywhere else a writer could go to find a critique partner, then feel free to leave a link in the comments.

What are you looking for in a critique partner? How did you find your critique partner?

37 comments:

  1. Great post- wonderful questions to know about yourself and your writing.

    Me- I use a critique group, it sometimes takes longer because my story wont get into que for a few weeks, but I get a lot of feedback at once when it does which helps me with revisions.
    Thanks for posting!

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  2. I so wish I had this list when I first started out sending my work to all and sunder!! that was a few years back now and all I had were writers' forums where you could post your work and get feedback!! I think it was akin to getting thrown into a lion's den. It was a steep learning curve for me as I didn't even know about critique partners or how to acquire these lovely people or how I could ever think of myself as one!!!

    Thanks for these links too btw!!! They're handy and very helpful! Take care
    x

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  3. Natalie Whipple at Between Fact & Fiction is putting together a list of people who are looking for CPs -- you can go http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2011/02/crit-partner-classifieds.html to get the details and to send in your info.

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  4. My critique partner needs to be respectful of me as a writer and as a person. By respecting me as a writer they offer constructive feedback along with the positive, and by respecting me as a person they don't insult me.

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  5. i met my CP at nathan's forums, and i have a newer person that i've been swapping work with that i became familiar with through blogging. :)

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  6. Summer, critique groups are great because you can get a wider variety of opinions. It's just a matter of finding one that fits. So far I haven't had much success in terms of a "group".

    Old Kitty, I've never done the feeding frenzy thing where a writer throws in their work and watch it get publically shredded to pieces.

    Jenna, Thanks for the link! That's great :)

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  7. Jeffrey, absolutely. That's a whole other topic: how to be a good crit partner. It's not only about finding the faults.

    Aspiring, you originally pointed me to Nathan's forums. :)

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  8. number two is especially great, Lyndylove!
    And, yes, asking their favourite bloggers to criticize them a big is a great solution :) And to give them compliments too!

    My problem is that whenever I do, I know what are the weak and good points myself, and I've never found anyone who could tell me something I don't know, which is kinda troubling for me :(

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  9. I agree that crit partners are useful, but sometimes I think that I'm not advanced enough in my writing to have a crit partner... that I'm still taking baby steps. I do have a couple of writing mentors who read my work and comment on it, and they're invaluable. But they're also people who've known me for several years.

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  10. Before there were so many opportunities to meet like-minded writers on the net, I found my critique partner at a conference and met up with others at a local writers' group.

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  11. I connected with an online forum where you can post your work and whoever reads it can critique it, if they choose to. After checking it out a bit, I don't feel it's for me, so I haven't submitted any work. I'd just like to find a small group that I get to know who I'm sharing my work with. I need to start putting out some feelers and checking out some groups. I'm also going to check my library to see if there are any existing critique groups that meet at there.

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  12. I'm fortunate that I get to meet with my two test readers in person. I don't know how anyone does it without help!

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  13. Thanks for the mention! You're awesome :) I love CPs that can be forward and gritty, yet complimentary on the parts they like. Everyone needs motivation and support.

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  14. Good ideas for places; I also know people who have gotten critters from the national SCBWI Discussion Boards. They have a section there to post things like that, if you write for children (you can specify whether you want a picture book critter, or a MG/YA).

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  15. I am in definite need of a CP, Lynda. I appreciate the ideas you've given me here. Thanks for those new sources!

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  16. Lynda it is great to do these posts. As we know it is very difficult finding a perfect match. Maybe it's trial and error. Just getting people to follow up and fill out their details is a massive task. Thx for the other link also.

    Denise:)

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  17. I've met most of my cp's at conferences or through blogs. :) My first cp turned out to already be a friend...(Susan Fields) We had been friends for years...Our kiddos had been friends since first grade. I noticed a whole bunch of papers on her dinning room table and asked what she was doing and she confessed she was an unpublished and I confessed the same...

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  18. I need to find a crit partner some time, but I'm still trying t sort myself out enough to know what I want.

    :-)

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  19. Great links. Thanks for those :) And great crit partner is a writing MUST HAVE!

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  20. Great points about what you need in a critique partner.

    I see Natalie Whipple's recent critique partner match has been mentioned. Mary Kole occasionally does a Critique Connection on KidLit as well.

    Rach

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  21. Writing networks are great for finding critique partners. Some reviewers offer generic comments, but over time, I have found a group of people on my writing network with whom I exchange reviews. Special to me are the writers who see holes in my work that I don't notice.

    A group of us of the same skill level - both published and unpublished are getting together to do weekly reviews. Having a set of folks with diverse skills does help the reviewing process.

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  22. I didn't know Denise was doing that. That's so cool.

    I agree. Those are important questions to ask ourselves and our critique partners.

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  23. I truly need a critique group. I have sent my work to two fellow bloggers, but felt I was imposing on them. My own feelings nothing to do with them. I am a novice at critiquing, so feel I am not of much use to another writer. So I dither on. But I not only want a critique group, I need one! Yes I am very needy! :)

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  24. I am hoping I recruited a new [and knowledgeable] member to my group that meets face to face, but would love a crit partner I could go to between those meetings. Especially one who knows as much or more than I do and is actively submitting.

    I see query tracker has a forum for seeking crit partners.

    It's important to tell your partner what you want. Extra feedback is always good, but then remind them what you need from them.

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  25. Dezzy, lol, my crit partner usually tells me the things I already know, but I need someone to tell me anyway. It's a sort of confirmation of where I need to fix my writing.

    Heidi, mentors are important for new writers and for those who are less confident. But my guess is you know more than you realise. Critiquing someone's work is also a great learning experience.

    Susan, great places to find CPs. I should have mentioned that in my post. lol.

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  26. Susanne, public critiquing isn't for me either. I hope you find a good group fit.

    Alex, I totally agree

    Las Vegas, you're welcome :)

    Carol, thanks for the extra tip :)

    Roxy, I hope it helps you find a CP

    L'Aussie, I have to say, Denise, I'm impressed by all the hard work you've put into pulling the list together.

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  27. Sharon, what an awesome story! I love it. How cool to discover you were both writers!

    Misha, yep, I'll admit it's not always easy to know what we want.

    Tabitha, I agree. CPs are invaluable.

    Rachael, thanks for the extra pointer :)

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  28. J L Campbell, more than one CP is helpful. It's good to get different opinions.

    Clarissa, exactly, because it's not always easy to find the right match.

    Ann, I hope you find a group that fits soon. They are so worthwhile.

    M Pax, I do think it's important to find a CP who is at an equal or higher skill level, and someone who has knowledge of the industry.

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  29. Thanks for sharing these links Lynda :)

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  30. Thanks for the helpful links. Its great if one finds a Critique Partner who can spot all the weaknesses and sharpens one's writing.

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  31. Good critique partners can be lifesavers sometimes. Not just for the critiques but for the moral support. It's nice to have someone who understands.

    Jai

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  32. Oh, great tips to hang on to for future reference. And thanks for the links, too!

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  33. WritingNut, no worries

    Rachna, I'm thankful for my current CP. She is a treasure.

    Jai, yes, I do believe the moral support is just as important.

    Words Crafter, hope they helped :)

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  34. Great post - you've given me something to think about

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  35. Wow, what a coincidence! I have just written my own "personal add" on my blog and on Twitter about this subject. I will definitely check your links out!
    Thank you SO much for sharing this!

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  36. I have four fabulous critique partners with whom I also share a blog, and we found each other through the CompuServe Books and Writers Community, which is a hangout for international writers. It's also the online home of several fantastic published authors who are extremely generous with their knowledge, including Diana Gabaldon, Barbara Rogan, and Joanna Bourne.

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